When children come into the studio, they often feel awkward because of the unique atmosphere with strange lighting, equipment, and backdrops. It is important that you try to make the child feel as comfortable as possible before trying to capture their personality on camera. The parent will want to see their child’s carefree youthful smile in the photographs, so it is your job to welcome that smile to the child’s face in the first place.
You’ll want to have some toys, little-people furniture, crayons and coloring books within plain site when the customers walk in the door. This will instantly make the atmosphere “kid friendly.” You need to welcome the adult customers and then immediately direct your focus to the children. Give the child a big smile, lean in when you’re talking to them, make them feel comfortable with you.
The next step is shooting. Most children love props. Props make the studio more fun and interesting and the child will stay more engaged in the session, rather than wanting to get out as fast as possible. Props such as miniature footballs, basketballs, teddy bears, building blocks, and paint cans are great for boys. Fairy wings, boas, little white wicker chairs, and flowers are great for girls. Using fun backgrounds is helpful sometimes, but the props are where the kids have the most fun and stay the most engaged in what is going on.
While shooting, it is helpful to use a remote control, especially with babies. You want to be able to go back and forth from the child to the camera quickly and effectively. Pretend that you are going to tickle the child and then quickly move back toward the camera while triggering the shutter with the remote. This should help you get the child to look toward the camera with a smile. Always make sure that the parents remain nearby and inform them before the session begins that it is their responsibility to keep their child safe during the session. Babies can roll over very fast without any warning signs. It is the parent’s responsibility to keep their child safe. It is your responsibility to make them as comfortable as possible, and get those pictures!